Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tents Only

It was one of the most unique retreats we’ve hosted in recent memory. By opting to sleep in tents rather than our cabins or lodges, the father-son group from Word of Grace Community Church brought a whole new dynamic to their weekend last month. Fathers and sons camping out together provided a way for them to strengthen their bonds with each other and with their Lord and Savior. By braving the cold nights and hard ground, this group connected with creation and the Creator in an intimate way.

Coincidentally, this “tents-only” weekend came right in the middle of the Jewish "Feast of Tabernacles" which is introduced in the Old Testament. This feast was described by God in Leviticus 23 as a time when all the people were to live outdoors in “tabernacles” or temporary shelters. This feast was to be a time of rejoicing, reflecting on the faithfulness of God, and studying the scriptures. And let me tell you, that’s just what this father-son group did!

Over the course of their weekend at South Mountain, they spent equal amounts of time studying the Bible, encouraging and challenging each other on our ropes course, and just have a good time together. The bonding experience that took place during that weekend will stick with those boys and their fathers for a long time to come. 

As I gave thought to the Feast of Tabernacles once again, it occurred to me that this is essentially what camp ministry is all about. We provide an opportunity for people to get away from their daily routine, experience God’s creation first-hand, and draw closer to Him as a result. Sometimes it takes place in tents, sometimes in cabins, and sometimes in our lodges, but the concept is still the same. Our guests get out of their homes, and away from their jobs or school, to spend extra time with Jesus.

Frederick Gunn is generally considered to have started camping as we know it today in 1861 when he took a group of boys from his school on a camping trip. But it seems to me that God came up with the idea and shared it with the Hebrews a few thousand years earlier with the Feast of Tabernacles. Camping isn’t just a good idea, it’s a God idea!

It is our privilege here at South Mountain Christian Camp to put this same concept to work in the lives of people today. And what a blessing is it to see how God continues to use camping to impact souls for His kingdom!

Steve Collins
Associate Director